Sunday, 26 September 2021

Battle Bunker, 4Ground and a great day out.

Recently I won a thing. It doesn't happen very often so it was a nice surprise and it got better as it went on. So, here is some background.

A while ago, before Co-Vid messed up everything, I meet some nice folks at a wargames day at Entoyment in Poole. Lee "Stonewall" Wilkins, his long suffering wife Mel and their son Jamie soon became friends and even started coming to the Devon Wargames Club, despite being from up North. Well, north of Exeter is North isn't it? They then started a You Tube channel which posts their games, thoughts and events. I subscribed so I could stay updated about what they were doing, especially as we couldn't get together for a game during the lockdown period. 

They hit 500 subscribers and had a prize draw and one very lucky chap won it! I was chuffed to win and things got even better when I was invited up to collect my prize in person so they could put up a video of it. The prize was £50 of 4 Ground scenery, which I like and have quite a bit of already, and the venue was the new gaming centre at 4 Grounds HQ called FactoruM. What a place it is, it felt so comfortable and chilled there and was like a home from home. We met up with Ben, the owner of 4 Ground and a real top chap he is. He and all the people that work there are great company and really pleasant to be around. After a guided tour of the business we were treated to a very nice lunch before getting down to some gaming. Ben even gave us a freebie from Jamie's store room, much to his consternation. Thank you Ben, that was an unexpected bonus and is really appreciated.

Here is what I came away with, a touch over £50 me thinks!

A lovely Rorke's Drift set up was arrayed before us, with the four players taking the major parts from the film. I was Corporal Allan, the true hero of the engagement, who was the only leader on the day to keep all his men alive. Rumours that the Zulus were scared of his singing are misplaced and unfounded. Nathan was Colour Sergeant Bourne and was seen to throw away his lives in a haphazard manner. Apparently he won the most VC's on the day, but we think that is fake news. Christopher was Lieutenant Chard, RE, who was also free and easy with the lives of his men. Ben was Lieutenant Bromhead of the 24th, a fine leader who throw himself into action all over the field of battle. 

Lts Chard and Bromhead overlooking the defences

The game itself was very clever, it feels like the film did and the mechanisms Stonewall, Mel and Jamie have used for their rules do make it dramatic with action jumping from one part of the compound to another. The Zulu's can appear anywhere around the table and their actions are determined by a dice roll. Apparently not every roll results in an "F" for "Flippin' 'eck, here they come again", but it sure felt like it at the start. Ben's face when he shot at the Zulu unit facing him and they responded by charging straight into contact was a picture. It was not the reaction he expected from them, too be fair we were all a bit shocked by that turn of events.

Defend that wagon boys, here they come again!
Corporal Allan steadies his men before the Zulu assault

The initial attack was concentrated on the opposite side to my troops, but soon came around the sides and everyone was quickly facing at least some Zulu warriors. It was a close run thing, but we held until the column arrived, so won the day and went home for tea and medals. If you get the chance to play the game then grab it, I would play it again tomorrow if I could.

Jamie and Stonewall planning the demise of the Empire

Look at the evil grin on the face of Stonewall in this picture, the man is enjoying it too much I tell you!

Near the end and the redcoats are hard pressed

Zulus, farsands of 'em!

Bromhead, Hook and Schiess defend the rampart
while Corporal Allan secures their flank

Chard and Bourne are pushed back by weight of numbers

Christopher looks up "Fall Back" while Ben wonders where the roof went.
So that's it for now folks, thanks to Lee, Mel, Jamie, Ben and all the others at 4 Ground for hosting us yesterday, it was great and we will be back sooner rather than later.

A quick update

Well it has been an interesting few weeks since I have posted anything here. This will be a brief post about what has happened with a longer post about yesterdays event to follow. 

 Firstly I have now had my second cataract operation and it went as well as the first. My vision is great at distance now, I only need reading glasses for up close work. Top notch service and a great result, happy days! 

 Secondly, we had the Clotted Lard event at the club, ably managed by the over-worked Bob who did a marvelous job herding cats, ahem I mean wargamers, to get the event sorted. He had some major problems with various games being cancelled and many people dropping out for various reasons, but he pulled it all together and a good day was had by all. I ran a Chain of Command game in the morning, based on the actions at Mirbat in 1972. It went quite badly for the SAS and local troops in my game, with numerous casualties amongst the SAS unit. The players seemed to enjoy it though, which is what it is all about. In the afternoon I played a Sharp Practice AWI game put on by the very talented Jim Ibbotson. The scenery and figures were beautiful and the game was very balanced and a lot of fun to play. Victory for the forces of the King was assured by some very good dice rolling on my co-commanders part.
Finally, O Group has entered my gaming encyclopedia and very welcome it is too. Ian and Steve put on a game at the club and I was lucky enough to get to play it. It inspired me enough to put on a game the following Wednesday for my son and Nathan to play, to try out some more rules and units. The latest publication by Reisswitz Press, it is a battalion level game and plays very nicely. I will so no more about it today though as I am still learning how to play it properly, it's another set that is easy to learn but difficult to master. Below are a few snaps of the game I put on.
Table setup, France 1944

Germans occupy the farm

Panzers marsch!

A British company commander spots some trouble

The Germans advance in force

The farm is captured after a hard fight

Results of the farm fight

Right, thats it for now. Another update will be along soon with a report of a cracking day yesterday. Catch you later.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

I can see and I AM THE LAW!

 I have finally had my first cataract operation, following a screw up in May that resulted in the op being cancelled. While it was a totally weird sensation to have somebody poking about in my eye, the result is good so far. I can now see really clearly out of my right eye, while my left is still crap. Woohoo! I am happy that it is finally getting done and even happier that the result has been so good already. I now have 4 weeks of eyedrops and behaving so I don't put too much pressure on it but today is a damn good day.  Hopefully the wait for the left eye being done will not be too long.

Gaming wise I have not done much. I did play a game of Quartermaster General : Cold War with Stumpy, Andy and Zob. Andy and I were the neutrals, Nathan was the Soviets and Zob was NATO. We won, primarily because Zob concentrated on "beating" the Soviets, allowing us to concentrate on holding back Nathan's repeated incursions into our areas. It wasn't so much that we won as the other two lost, but I will take the win.

Painting has been limited due to my crap eyesight, although things are now better in that area obviously. My son has decided he wants to play Warlord Games new Judge Dredd game. I was brought up in the 2000AD period and JD was always good to read. So, a few shekels were parted with and he bought the base game. I then ordered Dredd and the Arch Villains box. I have painted the judges up so far, as you can see here. 

Dredd, Street Judge and Rookie
I like the figures, the detail is great and they paint up nicely. I am not a fan of the stupid little cast on bases but that is a minor niggle. I have to decide on a base style for them and it will either involve cutting off the cast base or building up the base to hide the cast base. Decisions will be made soon(ish). Junior is painting the gangers up.

The game itself is pretty good. Higher ranked judges are deadly, but weight of numbers and lucky dice can swing the game for the gangers. I managed to blow away a senior judge with a wounded juve ganger with a sawn off stub gun. I had great dice and he didn't(obviously) but it was a win for the gangers.

Anyway, that is it for now. Take care folks and I'll catch you next time.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Some more Wars of the Roses figures and other news

 Well it's been a while since I had anything to report, but things have been a bit manic. First up my eye operation was cancelled while I was at the hospital, so still no movement on that front. No idea when it will be rescheduled, but fingers crossed for soon.

Then my Mum had a stroke while on holiday in County Durham. It's sods law that it happened while she was so far away, so my sister and I had a panicked over night 6+ hour drive up to help out. My step-father is not in great health either and he panics a bit when things go wrong, so we had to go and sort him out as well. Mum is on the mend and back home in Cornwall, having been informed that she is not allowed to go any further north than Devon now. 😉 

Wargames wise, I have not played much. I did get a game of Trojan Wars Dux Brittanniarum at the Devon Wargames first meeting since lockdown lifted a bit. There is a write up here which is rather one sided as it was written by Vince Hector. It was a great game though and thanks to Chas, Vince and Andy for making the first game back so enjoyable.

I also played a game of Sharp Practice at the Monday night gaming group, where the Confederate forces saw off the Union trespassers and cleared the way to Washington. Sadly no pictures, but it has inspired me to run a campaign for Colin and Panjo to play. The first battle is under way and will be completed next Monday hopefully. While that was going on I played a couple of games of Tumult Royale with Andy and Zob, which is an enjoyable and fun boardgame, well worth the £7 it cost Zob. I came last in the first game but turned it around and won the second. It is quite tactical, more so than I realised in the first game.

Painting has been very slow and the quality has suffered due to my eyesight being so crap currently. I did manage to finally finish off the revolting peasants I have had on the go though. Wargames Illustrated had a nice article about rabbles and rebels in "Never Mind the Billhooks" and I was sold on the idea. A few clicks on the interweb and I had two boxes of Fireforge Games Folk Rabble and a box of Gripping Beast Dark Age Warriors on the way. I worked out that these boxes would give me enough figures to make up three units of 24 revolting peasants. Also the Folk Rabble had enough spare arms and heads that I could use them on the Gripping Beast figures to make them match in. 

Once they had arrived I started assembling them, using the extra arms and heads as described and chopping and gluing bits here and there. The figures came with a really nice mix of "weapons" including scythes, flails, a bow and various choppy type things. A couple of slings and spears from the Beasty figures and I had a reasonable mix, at least I think so. So I slapped on some paint. 

Now the quality of these paint jobs are basic to say the least. Most of it is Contrast Paints from Games Workshop because they are easy to use when your vision is blurry. I don't think they look too bad considering, they are only revolting peasants after all.

Unit one. For some reason they have ended up with 5 torches, ready to burn down the establishment. I quite like the look of the chap second from the right in the front rank, he looks like he means business with his two axes.

Unit two, who only have a single torch. No notable figures in this one but a nice mix of weaponry. 

Unit three, again only the one torch. I liked the look of the chap third in from the left, extorting his comrades on while holding a scythe. 

Well, there they are. I now need some more Men-at-Arms as I apparently do not have enough, oh and some more archers. My force is sadly understrength for Saturdays game at the Devon Wargames meeting.

Take care folks and I will catch you next time.

Monday, 3 May 2021

Not much going on.

 As the title says, there is not much to report. My painting mojo has moved on, at least for painting my own figures anyway. I have built some extras for my Cold War project, adding 10 T-64s, 4 BRDM2s and a few command vehicles but they are all sat in their unpainted glory looking at me in disgust.

One thing that has happened is the attic space has had a sort out. My darling wife(She Who Must Be Obeyed) decided we needed to sort it out as we are not getting any younger. So, a lot of old wargames stuff game down and is gradually being sold off. So far some old metal GW Goblins have gone with more to follow. I also had a look at the Bretonnian army I had over 20 years ago, back when I started painting. To say my standard has improved would be an understatement.

Here are a couple of pictures of a few painted(sort of) figures. At the time I was chuffed to bits with them but age has not been kind. No shading, no real details, no highlights. I was almost sorry to see them again. 

Metal Bowmen

A Knight and a Wizard
I decided to strip the paint off, either to repaint them or, more likely, to sell them on. So a quick search on the web for the best way to strip them and I came up with a new system. Previously I had tried brake fluid, oven cleaner and various other concoctions, but nothing really worked well. Now however there is a new (at least to me) paint stripper and boy does it do the job.

Here are the same figures after a couple of hours, literally 3 to 4 hours, soaking and then a rinse and quick brush with an old toothbrush. It worked wonders, even on the thick layers of paint these figures had.

A cleaner knight and wizard

Three shiny bowmen

Now it is not perfect, there is some undercoat showing on the horses etc, but the figures are very clean. So far I have stripped over 100 figures ranging from very old, pre-slotta base figures up to the more recent(ish) Necromunda gangers. 

So, what is this remarkable stripper you may ask. You probably didn't but I will tell you anyway. It is called Biostrip 20 Paint Stripper and I bought mine on Amazon for £20 for a litre. This has stripped over 100 figures but has now become more paint that stripper, so I have just ordered some more. I got the idea from this video on YouTube, although I use gloves to avoid direct skin contact with it. 

So, there you go folks, that's my latest bit of advice and I am off now to strip off some more knights that I put in at 7am today. Catch you all later when hopefully my painting will be back on track.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Cold War British and a big cat.

 I can't believe its been nearly a month since I posted anything. My painting mojo did die after finishing the Wars of the Roses figures, but I should have posted something before now. 

So, here I am with another update on my meandering wargaming habit. I have finally painted up my 15mm Cold War British vehicles that were discussed way back in May/June last year. There is still no sign of the former Armies Army models appearing from Scotia-Grendel, so I have bitten the bullet and accepted that I will have to have various sizes of vehicles. So, after slapping some paint about I completed the mix of vehicles I had, adding more tanks and APCs, plus some AT and recce assets.

Team Yankee British Vehicles
All told I did 16 vehicles and a helicopter, more than doubling my British vehicle force.  This lot gives me enough to put on a decent sized game at some point, assuming we are ever allowed to get together again.

One thing I decided I wanted was a Gazelle helicopter as a recce element and annoyance for the Soviets. While it has no armament, it is a good scout and could spot the enemy advance, assuming it doesn't get shot down by a ZSU-23-4 or SA-9. The model is a French HOT Gazelle without the missiles and painted up as British.
Strikers, Fv432s and Chieftains
I needed some more basic elements as well, so 3 extra Chieftains and some additional Fv432s were added. One area I was sorely deficient in was anti-tank guided weapons, so I picked up a box of Spartans and made two up as Fv102 Stikers. These are small and fast, able to hopefully hit and then run before they get spotted and blown to smithereens. They are lovely little kits.

Another anti-tank option is the Fv438, an adaptation of a standard Fv432 APD with a twin Swingfire missile launcher. Nice enough models which at least gives me another option.

I only had a single squadron of 3 Chieftains, so added another. These are big targets that will attract a lot of fire, but they do look nice and pack a big punch.
Scorpions and Spartans
Reconnaissance is very important in Battlegroup games, as it is in reality. So I picked up a box of Scorpion/Scimitars as well. Two were made up as Fv101 Scorpions, with a short 76mm gun. These are lovely little models and will look the part on the table. I also made up a pair of Fv103 Spartan APCs to carry support teams such as Milan or Blowpipe teams.

Finally there is a pair of Fv107 Scimitar light tanks. these are identical to the Scorpions except they have a 30mm cannon instead of the short 76mm gun. 

So, there they are. All I have to do now is paint up a second platoon of British infantry and everything I have for the British will be done. Until I get some more that is, I want some AA support, either a static Rapier or a tracked Rapier system. Maybe a Lynx with TOW missiles too, just to use the gunship token if it ever comes out, maybe an AVRE Centurion too as an option.

Finally I got around to painting this wee beastie.
Warlord King Tiger
I have had this kit sitting on the shelf for about a year now so decided enough was enough, built it and painted it. I don't have any late war Germans so this will probably end up on ebay at some point soon, but it was a pleasant change to do something this big. It's a decent kit and comes with the options of both turret types, I just went with the Henschel turret as that was the most common.

That's the lot for now, stay safe and I'll catch you all later.

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Even more Wars of the Roses

 Normal service has been resumed and I am still on project! Those who know me will tell you that this is a miracle, but the Wars of the Roses itch has still not been fully scratched.

So, forty more foot figures have joined the ever increasing throng. Some pikemen and skirmishers this time. Another six handgunners and six archers to be dismounts for my previously painted mounted archers. 

To make a change from Bills and Bows I have also done two units of pikemen, along with some more command and standard bearer figures.
Again, these are all Perry Miniatures plastics, as that is the cheapest way of doing this period. All told I now have 36 mounted and 249 foot painted, all done since Christmas. All I have left to do is base the two cannons and crew I have sat on the table.

I now have more than enough for a game of Billhooks, with enough to give both sides some options and some variety. I think I will call it done there, based on space, time and money I will have to move on to something else. I am thinking I need to get back to my 15mm Cold War project, I still have to play a game of Battlegroup:Northag at some point and I have a lot of unpainted vehicles sat in a box calling my name.

Catch you all later, stay safe folks.